I am a retired nurse with 53 years of experience in med-surg and psychiatry.
Recently, I had surgery that required sedation and anesthesia. I am always astrongly affected by sedation and actually remember very little of my first 2 post-op days. I was encouraged to take pain medications although I was so sedated I didn't feel pain.
What disturbs me the most, even now, is that I was discharged although I had no idea what my follow-up care should be. I kept saying I wasn't ready to go home but everyone, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and even the doctor who assisted with my surgery said I was and I was discharged accordingly. If my head had been clear I would have demanded to see a social worker, a case manager, and my surgeon. As I was, I just followed directions and home I went.
I had no idea what to do with my leg brace or ice pack machine. Simple things and perhaps I was instructed in them but my mind was so fuzzy I couldn't remember. It is like the nurse who came in and was sarcastic about your pain button next to your bed. How did he not know that we all need to be reinstructed in every aspect of care til we can repeat and/or demonstrate it back clearly?
I'm not sure that is because we nurses are so busy, as we are not instructed ourselves in the effects of anesthesia on our minds. I worked in Home Health for 30 years, and one of the things all of my team knew was that reality and time orientation were needed for days and sometimes weeks for any older person who had anesthesia.
Surgery is not just a physical experience, it is mental, emotional, and spiritual as well.